News aggregation is controversial. There are news and media providers that want to get paid when anyone uses as little as 5 words from their articles and there are some fair use advocates that go as far as to claim that anything on the Internet is public and up for grabs. At NBXmain both of these extremes are considered wrong.

No business should be canivalistic of the activities it builds upon and as such aggregators should aim to support, in a way or another, the effort done daily by those who are sources of information.

However, there is a line where responsibility for success and failure also lies on the sources themselves. With the exception of key national security issues - completely a different debate, you can get access to key content indicators of even confidential information in most civilised countries. The act of easening access to indicators that allow a person to decide if [s]he wants to invest more time deepening on a particular bit of information is an activity that supports human development.

This was, more or less, the rationale used by the UK supreme court in 2013 when deciding on a lawsuit filed against Meltwater (a company that does aggregation) by the National Licensing Association (a licensing umbrella for a number of British content providers). This ruling allowed, in very broad terms, the act of reading aggregated news without the need of a license. It also noted that, by extension, the act of providing said content cannot be considered unlawful. Admitedly, the ruling left a lot of room with regard of how much content can a company reasonably provide without a license to "process" that content.

The UK ruling can be compared to the parallel case between Meltwater and the Associated Press (AP), in the United States. In the United States, Meltwater's activities were found unlawful on the basis of three key aspects. As follows:

  1. The nature of the business: The court found that although Meltwater claimed to be similar to a search engine, it was, in practice, functioning as a substitute and, unlike public search enginges, it was only making it's results available to paid subscriptors.
  2. The proportion of the copyrighted material used: The court considered that Meltwater used more than a reasonable portion of the articles and that this use was beyond the minimum needed for the functionality of its search engine.
  3. The effect on the source activity: The court found that Meltwaters activities "cheapened" the value of AP's efforts by bypassing payment walls.
    1. It is not our place to comment on what Meltwater should or should not do, however there are various key aspects that evidence that, under the rationale laid out by both the UK and the US courts, NBXmain's aggregation does, and should not, need licenses for its aggregation efforts. As follows,

      UK:

      1. NBXmain only provides as much content as the provider themselves make available for usage by other sources. It is impossible to index anything, whether on a computer or in paper, technologically or logically, without a headline and at least a small snippet about it. The responsibility of making said headlines interesting for a potential reader to want to read further lies exclusively on the source.
      2. Whilst our servers save the information provided for historical purposes, the nature of the technological copies made remains a direct result of what the publisher originally made available to the public.
      3. NBXmain does a much lesser use of copyrighted material than Meltwater. As Meltwater was found to be operating lawfully, any similar activity with a lower use of the item that generated the lawsuit should also be deemed lawful.

      US:

      1. NBXmain makes the content publicly available and without charge to anyone with an Internet connection. NBXmain is indeed more alike to a search engine than to a news wire service.
      2. NBXmain is NOT a good source of information for someone who wants to reduce his/hers news-reading time. On the contrary, NBXmain's objective is the opposite: to make people want to inform themselves in a more comprehensive manner.
      3. Rather than bypassing payment walls, NBXmain aims to direct users to legitimate providers who operate within legal boundaries.
        1. Finally. It must also be noted that NBXmain gives it's readers access to external content providers that do not usually figure out as prominent. The objective is indeed to show that there is indeed a world of information beyond the often-heavily-biased-news from mainstream providers that tend to monopolize collective feeds due to their popularity(i.e. social media). To push the viewer to read more, rather than less.

          In conclusion, pursuing licenses for the headlines aggregated in this site would not only go against existing legislation on the matter; it would also undermine the already-struggling news/media business model.

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9:32pm December 16+1:00 GMT